VE Day lessons and 'street' party (social distancing style!)
I don't ever need much of an excuse to put up bunting and balloons and Friday 8th May will be no exception as we look forward to remembering VE Day. So if you fancy getting some inspiration on how to prepare some lessons on VE Day with your children, plus some ideas on resources and an end of war 'street party' (in the safety of your own home) then read on.
Each day this week, I'm going to incorporate some VE Day themed learning into our daily lessons. Our three children are currently aged 7, 4 and 2, so trying to convey the ideas of war, peace, and national celebrations may seem tricky at first. However, I think there are many lessons we can draw from our current situation that may help our children begin to understand what might have been involved 75 years ago. Below are some subjects you may wish to cover over the week. Here's a great introduction video for older primary-aged and secondary children to get an overview of the whole theme.
Depending on the age of your children, you can choose how in-depth you go with stories of the war and its ending. You could listen to some veteran stories and discuss what people went through. Twinkl have differentiated activity packs for ages 3-5 years, 5-7 years and 7-11 years including word searches, diary entries, reading material, colouring sheets, informative powerpoints and design-your-own medals.
You could look at different aspects of life during WW2 including evacuation, the Home Front, life abroad, and VJ Day. This BBC page has extracts from people's stories that could be read. You could look at these recollections from a WW2 nurse and this story, "How I loathed beetroot and cheese sandwiches" and discuss experiences of people at the time, and find any similarities and differences to people in similar fields today.
Time to get your children acquainted with Dame Vera Lynn. Listen to popular wartime music this week such as "We'll meet again", listen to the words and discuss what this might mean for the people singing it. For a selection of other wartime songs, look at this BBC Teach page.
We love looking at a different poem each week. This week, you could focus on some WW2 poetry. For older children or teenagers, you can pick one of the following from The Poetry Foundation. These other poems from BBC - WW2 People's War could be used for various ages. We tend to have one poem for a week, and read it aloud once a day. We don't spend time memorising or repeating. Rather, we take the approach of 'absorbing' it over time. New words, syntax and ideas become familiar over the week. Take a look at War Poets for a further look at different poetry and the lives of the writers.
Take a look at the layout of Europe and use this time to become confident with the countries. Explore how the countries were involved in WW2. Study European flags and create your own passport. On each page you could include a coloured in flag for that county including a couple of facts about it.
You could explore rationing (and watch this video) and how this impacted what children could eat during the war and after. Look at the restrictions and create your own menus. Is there a grandparent or great-grandparent that you can video-call and ask about their experiences of food? Use information from the Eatwell Guide, and design a nutrition plate using WW2 food.
Friday 8th May
We're going to hang some Union Jack bunting around the outside of our house. You could print this from Twinkl and laminate, or you could get ideas online to design your own bunting and hang outside your house. There is also the VE Day Toolkit you could download. Alternatively, you could order some pre-made bunting online and hope that it arrives in time. Like the rainbows stuck to the windows of houses all over the country, let's encourage one another with signs of celebration and unity as we decorate inside and outside our houses.
Street parties obviously won't be going ahead this year, but there will be a number of moments throughout the day marked nationally:
11am - a two minute silence and a special reflection and moment of prayer by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury
2:45pm-3:45pm - The first of two special BBC One programmes to mark VE75, including extracts from Sir Winston Churchill's victory speech delivered at 3pm on VE Day. There will also be the 'Nation's toast to heroes'
Afternoon - Families are encouraged to hold a 1940s-style afternoon tea party at home, rather than street parties (see recipe ideas below)
9pm - The Queen will be making a speech from Windsor Castle, mirroring the one her father, King George VI gave at the end of WW2. It will be followed by the second BBC One programme of music and memories of the era including appearances by Katherine Jenkins, Adrian Lester and Beverley Knight.
I'll try and get the children involved in preparing our party picnic. Take a look at these recipes that includes potato scones, egg fricassee, vegetables with cheese crust, and prune sponge. If they don't float your boat, feel free to put together a picnic that suits your tastes. There are some recipes here that sound pretty good: lentil shepherd's pie, shortbread, pear crumble and cheese whirls. Will you feature the famous corned beef somewhere in your spread? Perhaps you could open the windows, put on some wartime music, have balloons and bunting and enjoy the celebratory atmosphere. Older children may want to recite the poem they've learned this week, or younger ones could share what they learned this week: what they found most surprising, what they would have liked, what they wouldn't like, how they can help others in our current situation, what they can be grateful for today...
After all, remembering the past helps us refocus and look at our present with a different perspective. It's always healthy to take a moment to reflect. Each one of us have our own struggles in life as well as our own victories. Let's celebrate the little and big victories in our lives as we build hope for the future.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1